Living Out Grace
Having read Kyle Idleman’s latest book, “Grace Is Greater,” I am moved to tell a story of grace, forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation from my own experience.
I have written in the past about the fact that my Dad lived with us for several years before having to place him in a skilled nursing facility where he passed away last May. The story of how he came to live with us has not be written before.
Dad and my sister Donna had a co-dependent relationship for decades. Donna played the role of addict well, and Dad was an enabler extraordinaire. This co-dependency kicked into high gear following the death of Mom in 1993.
While there were serious warning signs of things to come as early as 2005, Dad kept me at arms-length regarding the depth of the co-dependency. Oh, I knew it was there. I even told Dad in a letter that I would do anything I could to help, IF he would let me. If he wouldn’t, then I would simply stay out of the way. All this, after I was accused of trying to control Dad. He was hospitalized (for what I now know was the 1st time of being hospitalized for polypharmacy), and I wanted to get his car repaired. I backed off.
Fast forward three years, and I found out that Donna was in jail, Dad was home alone, his bank account beyond depleted, his car hidden in the garage because he was afraid the title pawn folks were going to take his car (and they would have), his phone disconnected, and his electric about to be disconnected (again). Oh yeah, and the house was in the early stages of foreclosure.
Donna’s addiction had taken her to the point where she had written tens of thousands of dollars of bad checks on Dad’s account (she and I were both listed on the account with Dad), she had maxed out all of his credit cards, and his bank account had been closed because it was in the red for more than three consecutive months. Dad was clueless about all of this, except for the fact that Donna was in jail, and some guys were looking for his car.
Donna did indeed spend quite some time in jail for her bad check writing deeds. During that time, she wrote to Dad demanding that he bring her money and toiletries. I told Dad that he could not do that because he didn’t have any money. I wrote Donna, telling her that I loved her, but she wouldn’t be getting any money from Dad since he was tens of thousands of dollars in debt, I was trying to save his house and his car, and establish a new checking account where he could get his pension, social security, etc. direct deposited. I know that Donna thought I was satan in the flesh. I will confess that I was very angry with what she had done to Dad. I was also angry with what Dad had done to enable Donna to get to that point.
Long story short, Donna is out of jail, making restitution payments to several counties where she wrote bad checks. I temporarily saved Dad’s house, but eventually had to give it up. I got thousands of dollars of debt taken care of (either paid off or forgiven) before Dad’s health demanded placing him in skilled nursing as a medicaid patient.
Like I said, I was angry about what was going on, but I did NOT want to play the role of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. I prayed and prayed. I prayed for Dad. I prayed for Donna. I prayed for me. I prayed to be a dispenser of grace. I did FINALLY come to the point where I truly released all of my anger, hurt, frustration, and resentment to God.
There are consequences to actions, and trust takes a LONG TIME to rebuild. I will simply tell you, that trust has been restored in my relationship with Donna. It has not been easy. Can’t find anywhere in Scripture where it says that life will be easy. I had to let go. I had to get to the point where I truly put all of this very painful situation in God’s hands. Again, I was as angry with Dad as I was with Donna. Yet, we took Dad into our home and cared for him as best we could for as long as we could without risking serious injury (Dad had balance issues…he fell NINE times in the last eight days he lived in our home). Donna, on the other hand, was still playing the co-dependent card with Dad all the way up until the point he was a medicaid patient and no longer had any money or assets she could use. She did another stint in jail about four years ago, and at about that time, I was giving the house back to the mortgage company. Now, Donna was literally alone and without a place to live, etc.
I will finish the story on Monday. And by finish, I mean I will bring you to the present day in this journey of Grace.